WINNIPEG - A year ago today, Rich Peverley became a Bruin. The ex-Thrasher appeared in 23 regular-season games for his new club before dressing in 25 more in the postseason.
This year, there’s a chance Peverley’s regular season is over.
Peverley will miss 4-6 weeks because of a third-degree medial collateral ligament sprain in his right knee. He will not require surgery.
Peverley was injured in the third period of the Bruins’ 4-3 shootout win over Montreal on Wednesday when he collided with ex-Bruin Hal Gill. On Thursday, Peverley returned to Boston, where team doctors issued the diagnosis.
The Bruins are now without two of their top three right wings in Peverley (9-29-38) and Nathan Horton (17-15-32).
“It’s unfortunate,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “He logs a lot of minutes during the game. With Horton out already, those are two guys that play a lot of minutes for us. It’s going to be a challenge for us.
“That’s just part of the game. Throughout the season, you get injuries. The team’s got to fight through those kinds of situations.
“We always believe that when we respect our game plan and our system, we’re usually successful. We’ve got to rely on that now more than ever. That should help us get through those two players missing from our lineup.’’
Because of Peverley’s versatility and all-around game, his absence leaves a significant hole, touching every situation and creating a trickledown effect throughout the lineup.
Peverley had been skating on the No. 2 line with Milan Lucic and David Krejci. Benoit Pouliot skated in Peverley’s spot in last night’s 4-2 loss to the Jets. Pouliot had one shot in 15 minutes and 29 seconds of ice time. Pouliot and Lucic combined for zero shots through two periods.
Peverley had also been playing the right point on the No. 1 power-play unit alongside Zdeno Chara. Peverley averages 2:44 of power-play time per game, second most among Bruin forwards after Patrice Bergeron (2:45). Last night, Andrew Ference manned the left point, and Chara switched to the right.
Peverley (1:43 of shorthanded ice time per game) usually kills penalties with Chris Kelly. Last night, Jordan Caron assumed most of Peverley’s penalty-killing shifts.
One of Peverley’s underrated skills is on faceoffs. He has won 187 of 304, good for a team-leading 61.5 percent success rate. Late in tight games, Julien often sends out a line of Bergeron, Peverley, and Kelly because of their defensive awareness and ability to win faceoffs.
The Bruins have been blessed with good health for the better part of the last two years. Now, they’ll have to adjust to life without two go-to forwards.
“For the first time in a long time, we’ve been dealing with a little bit of injuries as well,’’ Lucic said. “It’s up to all of us as a group to step up our game and try to figure out a way to get that consistency back.’’
Yesterday morning, Josh Hennessy kidded that without a Canadian data plan, he was absolved from returning the multiple calls and texts wishing him good luck last night in his Bruins debut. After all, dressing for your hometown club - Hennessy’s idols included Cam Neely, Ray Bourque, and Adam Oates - is worthy of congratulations.
“This is different for sure,’’ said the Rockland, Mass., native, who played for the Senators the last time he was in the NHL. “I’m not worried about how my legs are going to feel. I’ll probably have to slow myself down a little bit. I’m just looking forward to my first faceoff win or my first shift out of the way. Hopefully, just play a hockey game.’’
Hennessy is a top-six forward in Providence. In 48 games, the lefthanded-shooting center had 15 goals and 15 assists.
Last night, Hennessy centered the fourth line between Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. Hennessy skated 13 shifts for 7:54 of ice time and won 6 of 10 faceoffs.
“It wasn’t bad,’’ Hennessy said. “I tried to be really simple. If we didn’t spend much time in our zone, as a fourth line, that’s what we’re looking for. I’ll probably settle down with the puck a little more next game.’’
Paille moves up
Daniel Paille, usually the fourth-line left wing, moved up to the third line alongside Kelly and Caron. Paille had one shot in 12:26 of ice time . . . Horton (concussion) has not resumed off-ice workouts. “He’s at the stage he was earlier on,’’ Julien said. “We’ve got to be patient with that. As I’ve said before to my trainers and doctors, as long as symptoms are there, you’re not going to hear a peep from me. I respect the seriousness of it all. You’ve got to give the guy the best opportunity possible to get himself better.’’ . . . Tyler Seguin was in the lineup. Seguin was suspended for the Bruins’ previous visit here because he missed a team breakfast and meeting . . . Tuukka Rask got the call in net after backing up Tim Thomas three straight games. The Bruins have been on the losing end of Rask’s last five appearances, last winning more than a month ago (Jan. 16 at Florida) . . . Defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk was a healthy scratch for the second straight game . . . The Bruins were 0 for 2 on the power play. They had only two man-advantage shots.